The Butler Bulldogs who have a young basketball team this season led the vast majority of the basketball game with one exception during the first period when the Ravens took a brief 13-11 advantage.
The Bulldogs are as physical and dominating as they have been in the past few years with the exception of Independence State Championship in 2017-2018. They still have a solid team with an impressive sophomore 7 foot center named Patrick Wessler who is strong under the boards and has a nice left handed touch shot around the basket. When Wessler fully develops and bulks up over the next two years this young player may become a “Giant Bulldog” playing at the Dawg Pound. Certainly, teams in the Southwestern 4A Conference are going to have to prepare for his presence on the floor.
He is also surrounded by a solid group of starting players and role players off the bench. Meanwhile, the Ravens, a scrappy bunch who do not give up or get intimidated played themselves a good basketball game.
In the first period, the Bulldogs took a quick 7-2 lead, primarily on the back of Wessler who scored 7 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in the opening period. However, the Ravens went on a run of their own when Stephon Richards would hit a 2-pointer, and Christian Rudisell would add another 2 point field goal to tie the game at 11-11. By the time the period ended the visitors from Rocky River had a 13-11 first period lead.
In the second period, the Bulldogs made some adjustments, they would expand their edge to take a more comfortable lead. However, the scrappy Ravens would score the final points of the first half to reduce the advantage held by the Bulldogs going into the intermission only down by six points 30-24. However, they still had no answer for Wessler who had 11 points, 9 rebounds, 1 blocked shot, 2 deflections and 3 assists dishing the ball around the perimeter.
In the third period, the two teams battled back and forth and up and down the floor. However, Butler was able to expand their lead by outscoring the Ravens 14-10. With 2:57 remaining in the period, Butler called a time-out leading 43-29, the Ravens made a defensive adjustment and were able to force a couple of turnovers which created a few fast break opportunities giving Calik “Duke” Thomas, Richards and Nick Burns some good scoring opportunities ending the period down 44-34. But, still 10 points off the pace being set by the Bulldogs.
In the final period, with the score 46-37 with 5:59 remaining, Burns would hit a 3-pointer to make the score 46-40. A time-out called by the Ravens to discuss strategy, they applied a full court press, however, Butler was able to break the extra pressure used by the Ravens. Then with 2:25 remaining, the score 57-44 Bulldogs, the Ravens became more desperate, they had to begin fouling their opponent. However, Butler sank their free throws to put this game away and preserve the conference victory along with sinking 2-point field goals by Jordan McPhatter, and Moses Payne. This game was won at the free throw line as Butler shot well throughout the contest.
This was Ravens Coach Mike Malpass first Southwestern 4A Conference game, he will quickly learn this is one of the toughest basketball conferences in the state. These games are all highly competitive and every night will be another challenge to overcome. However, these Ravens are playing better as a team, they are more disciplined defensively, and will be able to compete and be in every game.
The Ravens top scorers were Stephon Richards, 17 points, Calik Thomas contributed 11 points, Nick Burns and Christian Rudisell all made solid contributions. While for the Bulldogs, Wessler scored 17 points to lead the team, Christain Gatewood, Payne, and McPhatter all had a good performance.
Teams 1 2 3 4 Total
Rocky River 13 11 10 18 52
Butler 11 19 14 18 62